Searching For Satisfaction

Thinking About Going Back To School

Posted on: March 24, 2011

Since last summer, when I first admitted to myself that I was unhappy in my career & needed a change, I’ve been considering the idea of going back to school. At various times I’ve been flip-flopping between a strong interest/desire to go back to school, and a strong aversion to additional schooling. Right now, I’m back on the “I might need to go back to school” side of the pendulum.

Currently I hold a BS and MS in chemistry. Lots of technical training, but that’s it. I’m very good technically at what I do, but now I have additional interests & areas that I want to master, that are way outside of my training. Areas like business development, entrepreneurship, finance, accounting, marketing, and management/HR. I’m not expecting to be an expert in all those areas, but right now I don’t even have a foundation in those areas, beyond what I’ve picked up in my almost 5 years in the corporate world. Right now I can’t really transition out of engineering & into the types of positions I want, because I only have a technical background, with no formal business training. In order to move out of engineering/sciences, which I desperately want to do, I either need some formal training, or someone to take a chance on me & allow me to learn on the job.

My ultimate goal is to own my own business – actually several businesses. I want to control my own destiny. I don’t mind hard-work at all, in fact, I enjoy it. But I want the fruit of those labors to directly benefit me, in more ways than simply a salary and benefits from an employer. If I’m going to give my effort and my time, I want it to be for me & mine, not simply to line the pockets of executives & investors. I won’t work 80-hour weeks for my current job, but I definitely will for my own business.

So why am I on the fence about going back for the MBA? Well there are a couple of factors. First, there is the money problem. I have more than enough student loan debt, and I am not interested in adding to it. In my perfect world, I wouldn’t have to pay a dime for my MBA, and I’d really like to make that happen. I am a realist & I know that’s hard to do, and that’s why I’m hesitant. One option is doing a part-time MBA program & utilizing a tuition reimbursement program through my employer. My current employer changed their tuition reimbursement program, and they now require a 5 year commitment AFTER the completion of the last class is completed, and with a 3-year program, that’s 8 years that I would have to stay #nobueno. So if I want to go the tuition reimbursement route, I have to change employers.

I’m also on the fence because of my age. I will be 29 in July, and if I decide to do a full-time program, the soonest I could begin is Fall 2012, and I would be 30. I’d graduate when I was 32. Do I really want to be in my 30s and back in school? Would I be deemed “too old”? Can I be a grown-up & go back to the life of a poor graduate student? I remember that life, and it was hard enough in my early 20’s. Now I have grown-up bills & responsibilities & I’m not sure if my finances can handle it. I’m not sure if my ego can handle being a 30+ year old graduate student.

My final hesitation about getting the MBA is simply if it is worth it. I know that I don’t want to be a cog in the corporate wheel for the rest of my life. I know I want to do my own thing & be my own boss. Will an MBA help me on that path, or will it simply train me to work for someone else & be a slave to a system that I’m desperate to escape from? I don’t want to spend 2-3 years and thousands of dollars on a piece of paper that won’t help me get to my ultimate goal. I don’t want to waste my time or my money, and I refuse to do so. I know that all the advice in the world won’t be able to guarantee that the time & money spent on an MBA is worth it in achieving my life goals…but it will help me decide whether or not I’m willing to take a chance on an MBA.

So here’s where I ask for advice…if you were in my position, what would you do? Given what I want to do, is an MBA worth it? Should I be worried about being a 30+ year old MBA student? And most important – any suggestions on how I can get my MBA paid for?


23 Responses to "Thinking About Going Back To School"

*blinks* @ age “issue.”

Um, okay. The time is going to pass whether you go back to school or not, so if you want to go, don’t let your age be the issue.

As for funding, there is a TON TON TON of funding for graduate school, you just have to be willing to seek it out. You also MIGHT want to be willing to move – I believe there is a program for what you are trying to do in North Carolina but I can’t quite pull that information off the top of my head.

If you know for sure what you want to do, talk to people that are doing it and see what kind of credentials they have. An MBA is beneficial in a lot of ways, but you need to make sure it’s going to be beneficial in the ways YOU need it to be. Good luck.

I will check out the North Carolina program, thanks!

Maybe I am being silly about the age thing, but it was something that came to mind.

I’m sitting here about to be 37 starting a graduate program, and might be going for a PhD afterwards. Why not? Is learning solely the province of the young? I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find how much older grad schools are skewing these days. I’m not even CLOSE to being the oldest person in my class.

Jub, Lisa is 100 and she is in school. The age issue imo is no big deal. *walks away before lisa trys to assault me* lol

Now that you have my attention, what are you going to do with it? Nothing? Oh okay. Go somewhere and play, little boy.

*grabs heart* ohhh that hurt so bad lol

LMAO @ you & Coach going back&forth in my comments

Go back to school. The above poster said it all…time will go by whether you are in school or not and why let five years slip without doing something you want to do!

You are never too old and it is never too late to go back to school and do what you want to do. I finished my BA finally when I was about 27 or 28 and I am working on my MA. I will be 34 when I finish. The time is gonna pass by one way or another in 2 years you can have your MBA or you can still be thinking about what you are going to do.

Definitely look into jobs with good benefits. My job is paying for my MA and between the tuition reimbursement and what they are paying I only owe them one year afterward. But as my mentor says, if you get a job elsewhere negotiate for loan repayment to your old employer as part of your package!

Research, find a program that fits what you want and need and go for it!

I have a friend that went to get his MBA because he wanted out of engineering as well. He just finished last year and he’s 29 so he started a bit earlier than you but its not impossible. Moved a few states away to do it also–not sure if it was free or not, but still.

I think you should go for it!

Do you know where he went? How did he like his program?

he went to UNC. I can give you more details later.

Being a bit older and into a career helps you with the class work to be honest. You are able to see how theories apply in the real world. That to me is the value of going back with more experience under your belt.

The man child speaks the truth. I know for me, this go-round for school has been much more successful.

I agree with the oldest lady on earth.

If you have a ganf of student loan debt, you need to find some one to pay for you to go back to school and you aren’t too old to go back. Hell, if you go back now the economy will have probably improved even more.

I got my MBA in 2001 and I went part time. I got partial reimbursement but I have major debt and I wish I would have bit the bullet and went full time and knocked it put. My grown up bills at 25 were nothing like they are at 37. My salary has increased about 50K over the years so I think it was worth it.

If you plan on gettin your MBA. just save some money on the side for that. Age is nothin but a number…when you go back to school just focus on what you need to do. Lisa already answered the rest of it.

I can’t speak to whether or not having an MBA is worth it, because I don’t have one and have no plans to get one.

But I do think that if you’re interesting in going back to school, I certainly wouldn’t let age be an issue. I agree with Lisa – you’re going to be XX years old with a MBA or xx years old without one…

I’m 38 and as soon as I can find someone to pay for a PhD – I’m going to get that joker!

This is an interesting scenario that I have always been on the fence about. On the one hand, advanced education is a great thing. On the other hand, I think the quality of the MBA has been watered down. In Atlanta, there are billboards advertising MBA’s and EVERY school has an MBA program so its all about the quality of the program. Also I have 2 friends that went to top MBA programs (Duke & Minnesota) who are really smart and talented guys and they have been out of work for over a year. I read this blog post about 5 years ago but it provides some good insight and I hope it helps.

I have actually been thinking about getting my MBA as well. I have been looking into different programs that are tailored towards my field. If you want your MBA to take you to the next level, I don’t think going right now while your still in the lab will help you much.

The program that I am looking into, I have to have 7 years of working in my field (healthcare), be in a mid-level to senior management position and have the potential of being an industry leader. The program also requires that you work while going to school because it’s very hard to take time off of work when you are in the science field The average age in the program is 38 years old, so age should never the deciding factor.

I would suggest doing some research on different schools that are tailored towards what you want to eventually do.

You are never too old for school. My diabetic cert class has quite a few women in their late 40’s early 50’s, some nearing the end of their careers but want a better position for the last few years they have left.

Never too old for education, never too old for knowledge.

Your never too old to learn. There are people of all backgrounds in B-School. The networking is also a benefit. But in terms of entrepreneurship, some folks I started with in b-school quit, because they realized that they may not need a MBA for that. As another suggestion, some schools have one year cert programs for just the core classes. Either way, you got it!

you dont need an MBA to start your own business. use that would-be grad school money and jump right in.

everybody and their momma is getting an MBA (or a law degree) now. but if you’re working for yourself anyway, you only really need some raw knowledge, and to be clever enough to make some money with that knowledge.

and this may be the first period in human history where there are enough resources, information, and assistance online to start just about any business you want, sans the business degree.

American colleges and universities have drifted far away from how they used to be. No longer are they bastions of intellectual discourse, debate, and desire. No, instead they’ve transmogrified into corporate training camps.

Look at the job fairs that our schools embrace; suckling at the teet of corporate america as they simultaneously push their bright graduates (and our future) out of the womb of enlightenment and directly into the Machine as a “cog in the corporate wheel.”

We must be ever diligent to not let our talent go to waste, working for to consume, as we build these multinationals to ever greater heights. Especially black people– our ancestors knew a thing or two about having to work all your life to build someone else’s empire…

Black America needs you to start business, MBA or no.

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